Dangling over a plunging 90 foot waterfall, my life was now in the hands of the young guides who led our small group deep into the jungle of the coastal mountains of Honduras on the Rio Cangrejal. After a crash course, thorough and hands-on, I was expected to rappel backwards, leaning into my harness, steering my descent with a wide stance and footfalls against the slippery rocks. So, double-harnessed and helmeted I locked eyes with the guide who smiled and gave me the thumbs-up.
With my gaze hazy from the spray and splashing water, I focused on listening for his directions, using my right hand to grip the rope just under my seat, releasing it to drop a little farther down the vertical canyon. The crash of the waterfall was deafening, so I just kept moving aggressively until I could jump into the river and scramble onto a sunny rock to do my victory dance which included a wide smile and expletives.
Our “canyoning” continued as we gingerly hiked the banks and swam down the narrow river through the thick brush, climbing moss-covered ledges, jumping into pools, abseiling a few more challenging waterfalls and finally swimming up to the small dock at Las Cascadas Lodge, the eco resort where our adventure had begun three hours earlier.
With non-stop flights servicing the bay island of Roatán and coastal port city of La Ceiba, Honduras offers an adventure destination beyond the diving that the Caribbean barrier reef waters are known for. The people are warm and welcoming, honoring the growing tourism industry for this Central American country stretching along the Caribbean and Pacific between Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Boutique hotels like the Ibagari Hotel and diving-centric hotels like Barefoot Cay on Roatán are gorgeous and comfortable outposts for exploring local culture, shopping, dining out and adrenaline-packed days. Opening this summer, the Kimpton Grand Roatán Resort & Spa will offer 126 guest rooms, inclusive of seven suites with balcony plunge pools overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The beachfront resort will feature four unique culinary concepts, on-site water desalination and other adaptive reuse and eco-friendly touches. The newly opened Kao Kamasa Spa (Pesh for “White City”) offers the ultimate in destination wellness with private treatment rooms and bungalows for innovative and recharging services. The Pesh are believed to be the original inhabitants of the Bay Islands and still exist in small numbers on the mainland. The spa features an outdoor infinity pool with a see-through floor and outdoor treatment rooms so that clients may appreciate the serenity and beauty of this unique location atop a raised-bed coral reef overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
Divers flock to the island to explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, stretching nearly 700 miles from the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula down through the Honduran Bay Islands.
Cayos Cochinos is an archipelago of 15 islands and is home to Cayos Cochinos Foundation, supporting conservation initiatives, including sustainable tourism and preservation of biodiversity together with the local Garífuna community. Hosting scientists, volunteers and divers, the Foundation works to welcome visitors with care and warmth, sharing the delicate beauty of the area.
Back on the mainland, explore Pico Bonito National Park's over 217 square miles, with an altitude of over 8,000 feet in the Cordillera Nombre de Dios mountain range.
Guided hikes, valley tours, fishing, rafting, jungle saunas, ziplines, hot springs, waterfall descents and mud baths are on the menu, all at lower prices than other popular adventure destinations nearby.